So we all must learn two key skills. The first is to filter information, to sort the noise from the important. It seems to me that some do this as if simply blocking their ears, but that means they miss the important too! The second skill is for yourself to communicate clearly, finding ways to be clear, short and to the point. If you don't, your message will be lost in the noise of the receiver, filtered at their end.
Paul writing to the Corinthians wanted to be clear. He wrote a fair amount of stuff to them, but now he wanted to remind them of the good news as sharply as possible. The verses today do just that - the good news in 8 verses. In fact the core is in verses 3 and 4, so really just in just two!
How would you reduce the good news down to its irreducible core? A TXT message allows just 160 characters, a Tweet only 140. The NIV translation of verses 3 and 4 weighs in at 205 characters, so are you up to the challenge?
Here's my version:
Dig this! Jesus died coz our bad. Well dead. But raised to life → God's plan!And if we wanted to add verse 5 forwards (abbreviated to the hilt):
Yes really alive - many seen him. Me 2!
Paul tells directly of Jesus, and that he died for a reason (our wrongs). He really was dead (this was no fake), but he was raised to life again. That 'but' is so important! People have seen him alive - that's no fake either. The focus is rightly on Jesus, what he has done, and that he is alive today ... so we can meet him. The encounter with Jesus for each person is all important, and goes hand in hand with realising our need for God ('our bad', so to speak).
Jesus knows our need, and will come and meet with us. Our part is realising our need and responding. That is what we have heard in the testimony of today's baptism candidate. He could have convinced himself that life was okay, after all in many ways it was, but instinctively he knew that something wasn't right, and he also knew enough to call on God. Into that Jesus came, because Jesus is alive. Jesus' death has already dealt with the issue, and so for sure Jesus is worth following.
The top line of our youth work is that we want each and every young person to have their own encounter with Jesus, to know in their heart that Jesus is alive, and therefore want to follow.
Today is a baptism service, which in itself acts out the good news. It has the candidate making a stand for Jesus (as per verse 1 and 2), saying yes this is for me, I have met with God enough to know Jesus is worth following. The submerging in water shows the death of our old self, in parallel with Jesus' death in our place. Coming back out of the water shows the new life now to be lived, with Christ who was raised to life once again.
Our young people in church have a great privilege. With us they can learn about Jesus, His ways, and how it is best for us to live. Yet with that comes a risk! That they will learn all that good stuff and yet somehow miss the central irreducible core of the gospel - that Jesus has died for them, yet now is raised to new life so they can encounter him and know him. The challenge to our young people applies to us as well ... to let Jesus meet with you, so you know in your heart and are prepared to take your stand and follow.